Steel Valley celebrates Black History with 2023 edition of Interactive Living Museum

History came to life for Steel Valley students and community members as they toured the 2023 edition of the Barrett Elementary Black History Month Interactive Living Museum on Thursday, February 23.

Developed by the Barrett Special Events Committee and the passion project of second grade teacher Ms. Jonette Bost, the Interactive Living Museum is an annual celebration of history, heritage, culture and families. This year's theme was Black Resistance and reminded everyone, "You have the strength and courage to inspire others and change the world."

Each grade of students wound their way through the exhibits and displays as they learned about various aspects of Black history. The displays featured information about major historical figures, entertainers, athletes and artists, educated visitors on the cultural influences from the Caribbean, Egypt and the rest of Africa, and shared the origin and traditions of Kwanzaa.

Cynthia Battles, a gifted storyteller versed in traditional African folklore, shared stories when students stopped by the music room. Artwork made by Barrett kindergartners, elementary art teacher Ms. Caralee McGraw, and Steel Valley seventh graders Effie Seidling, Otis Jolo and Jeremiah Owens dotted the exhibit area.

Students and visitors also had the opportunity to grab a delicious bite to eat in the Soul Food Kitchen, take photos in front of cutouts of famous figures, and interact with a number of wax figures portrayed by Steel Valley Middle School and High School students, as well as alumni and volunteers. Visitors could walk up to one of the figures and press a button on the wall to learn more about their contributions to Black history.

Below is a list of all of the wax figures and the individual who brought them to life, as listed in the official program:

Steel Valley Middle School Students

  • Rosa Parks (Kyrae Harris Wade
  • Muhammad Ali (Matthew Fulmore)
  • Robert Abbott (Damarion Hill)
  • Barack Obama (Ray'Dvon Harris)
  • Kamala Harris (Perfection Huirston)
  • Whitey Houston (Kierra Sanders)

Steel Valley High School Students

  • Madame C.J. Walker (Londyn Askew)
  • Franco Harris (Jason Bethune-Curry)
  • Ciera (Ariah Morton)
  • Swin Cash (J. Loni Garland)
  • Joe Lewis (Phillip Pick)
  • George Washington Carver (Greg Davis)
  • Malcolm X (Rasaun Hough)
  • Michelle Obama (Ryan Cameron)
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. (Vinton Keller)
  • Serena Williams (Alexis Menefee)
  • Venus Williams (Tiera Menefee)
  • Juice Wrld (Wendoll Slade)
  • Jack Johnson (Pharaoh Conway)
  • Russell Wilson (Cayson Simpkins)

Steel Valley alumni and volunteers

  • Rihanna (Tierra Hughes, Class of '17)
  • Fannie Jackson Coppin (Shallegra Moye, The Pittsburgh Study)
  • Jackie Robinson (Kevin Clarke, Community Liaison)

To close out the day, everyone was treated to a few student performances. Wendoll Slade performed Juice Wrld's "Reminds Me of You," Kierra Sanders performed Whitney Houston's "I Have Nothing," and Teirra Hughes performed Rihanna's "Take a Bow." As a finale, Slade joined Pharaoh Conway and Chaya Beatty to perform "Glory" by Common and John Legend.

Check out photos from the entire event below.